In 1997, the International Year of the Reef, the Society undertook another of its scientific projects – the Herald Cays Scientific Study. This investigated the natural resources of the North East Cay, Herald Cays, to contribute to the conservation and management of the area. The Herald Cays are part of the Coringa-Herald National Nature Reserve which is managed by Environment Australia Biodiversity Group.
The cay is located in the central part of the Coral Sea Plateau, in the western Coral Sea, about 350 km east of Cairns.
Because of the fragile environment of Herald Cays, fieldwork for the Study was limited in duration and participants. Twelve researchers took part, supported by four Society volunteers. Four Environment Australia staff also participated. Researchers were on the island from 15 to 28 June 1997. See under Herald Cays Scientific Study Report for a list of research undertaken.
A quote from one of the participating researchers perhaps best sums up the value of this Society programme:
Opportunities for scientists to participate in multi-disciplinary expeditions are rare indeed, yet the basis of our understanding of natural ecosystems relies on a holistic discussion of the many integral components of those systems. In a time when both governments and industry are looking for answers to the myriad of questions regarding our natural systems, the RGSQ stands alone as an organisation which facilitates that understanding.